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Royal Frankish Annals 777-828

The Royal Frankish Annals constitute an official record of events in the Carolingian empire from 741
through 829 (i.e., from the death of Charles Martel through the reign of Louis the Pious). The annual
entries were likely composed by officials at the Carolingian court, and they are our best source for the
major political, diplomatic, and military matters affecting the empire during this period.
Below are excerpts from the text. Deleted text is marked with three dots ... or three lines --- (if longer
chunks have been deleted).

777: The Lord King Charles for the first time held a general assembly at Paderborn. All
the Franks gathered there and from every part of Saxony came the Saxons, with the
exception of Widukind, who was in revolt along with a few others. He fled with his
companions into Nordmannia. ...
782: The Lord King Charles embarked on a campaign and crossed the Rhine at Cologne.
He held an assembly at the source of the River Lippe. All the Saxons came there except
the rebel Widukind. Norse emissaries of King Sigifrid, Halptani with his companions,
also appeared at this assembly, and so did Avars sent by the khagan and jugur. When the
assembly was over, the Lord King Charles returned to Francia.
808: The winter was extremely mild and unhealthy at that time. When spring came, the
emperor went to Nijmegen. After spending Lent and celebrating Holy Easter there, he
returned again to Aachen.
Since he was informed that Godofrid, the king of the Danes, with his army had crossed
over into the land of the Obodrites, he sent his son Charles with a strong host of Franks
and Saxons to the Elbe, with orders to resist the mad king if he should attempt to attack
the borders of Saxony. Godofrid set up quarters on the shore for some days and attacked
and took a number of Slavic castles in hand-to-hand combat. Then he withdrew,
suffering severe casualties. He expelled Thrasco, duke of the Obodrites, who did not
trust the loyalty of his countrymen, hanged on the gallows Godelaib, another duke,
whom he had caught by treachery, and made two-thirds of the Obodrites tributary. But
he lost the best and most battle-tested of his soldiers. With them he lost Reginold, his
brother's son, who was killed at the siege of a town along with a great number of Danish
nobles. But Charles, the son of the emperor, built a bridge across the Elbe, and moved
the army under his command as fast as he could across the river against the Linones and
Smeldingi. These tribes had also defected to Godofrid. Charles laid waste their fields far
and wide and after crossing the river again returned to Saxony with his army
On this expedition Godofrid had as his allies the Slavs called Wilzi, who joined his forces
voluntarily because of their ancient conflicts with the Obodrites. When Godofrid
returned home, they also went home with the booty which they had been able to capture
from the Obodrites. But Godofrid before his return destroyed a trading place on the
seashore, in Danish called Reric, which, because of the taxes it paid, was of great
advantage to his kingdom. Transferring the merchants from Reric he weighed anchor
and came with his whole army to the harbor of Schleswig. There he remained for a few
days and decided to fortify the border of his kingdom against Saxony with a rampart, so

that a protective bulwark would stretch from the eastern bay, called Ostarsalt, as far as
the western sea, along the entire north bank of the River Eider and broken by a single
gate through which wagons and horsemen would be able to leave and enter. After
dividing the work among the leaders of his troops he returned home.
In the meantime Eardwulf, the king of the Northumbrians from the island of Britain, had
been driven from his throne and country. He came to the emperor while the latter was
still at Nijmegen and, after saying why he had come, continued to Rome. On his return
from Rome he was taken back to his kingdom by the envoys of the Roman pontiff and
the Lord Emperor. At that time Leo III ruled the Roman Church. As his envoy the deacon
Aldulf, a Saxon from Britain, was sent to Britain. Two abbots were dispatched with him
by the emperor, the notary Hruotfrid and Nanthar of St.-Omer.
After having two castles built on the River Elbe by his envoys and placing troops in them
for the defense against the attacks of the Slavs, the emperor spent the winter at Aachen
and celebrated Christmas and Holy Easter in the same place.
810: When the imperial envoys came to Amorez, governor of Saragossa, he requested a
conference with the guards of the Spanish border, promising that at this conference he
would submit with all his people to the emperor. Although the emperor gave his
consent, complications arose which prevented this formal submission from taking place.
The Moors with a fleet of immense size, which had been gathered by the whole of Spain,
landed first in Sardinia, then in Corsica. Since they found no garrison there, they
conquered almost the entire island.
In the meantime King Pepin, aroused by the treachery of the Venetian dukes, ordered
Venice to be attacked by land and by sea. After the capture of Venice and the submission
of the dukes he sent the same fleet to ravage the shores of Dalmatia. But when Paul,
governor of Cephalonia, came to the aid of the Dalmatians with the eastern fleet, the
royal fleet returned home. Hruodtrude, the emperor's eldest daughter, died on June 6.
While the emperor was still at Aachen, considering an expedition against King Godofrid,
he received the news that a fleet of two hundred ships from Denmark had landed in
Frisia, that all the islands off the coast of Frisia had been ravaged, that the army had
already landed and fought three battles against the Frisians, that the victorious Danes
had imposed a tribute on the vanquished, that already one hundred pounds of silver had
been paid as tribute by the Frisians, and that King Godofrid was at home. That, in fact, is
how things stood. This information aroused the emperor so much that he sent out
messengers everywhere to gather an army. Leaving the palace without delay, he decided
first to go and meet the fleet, then to cross the Rhine at Lippeham and wait for the troops
which had not yet arrived. While he stayed there for a few days, the elephant
which Harun, the king of the Saracens, had sent him, suddenly died. When the troops
had finally assembled, the emperor hastened to the Aller at the greatest possible speed,
set up camp where it flows into the Weser, and then waited for what would come of King
Godofrid's threats. Inflated by the vain hope of victory, this king boasted that he wished
to fight the emperor in open battle.
But while the emperor had his quarters in the place mentioned, news of various matters
was brought to him. It was reported that the fleet which ravaged Frisia had returned

home and King Godofrid had been murdered by one of his retainers; that the castle of
Hohbuoki on the Elbe, with Odo, the emperor's envoy, and a garrison of East Saxons, had
been captured by the Wilzi; that his son Pepin, the king of Italy, had died on July 8; and
that two embassies to make peace had arrived from different countries, one
fromConstantinople, the other from Cordova. When the emperor had received all these
reports, he settled the affairs of Saxony as far as circumstances at that time permitted
and returned home. On this campaign an epidemic broke out among the cattle which
was so severe that almost no animals remained to feed such a large army. All perished to
the last head. Not only there but in all provinces subject to the emperor the mortality of
this kind of animal ran very high. Arriving at Aachen in the month of October, the
emperor received the embassies mentioned and made peace with
Emperor Nicephorus and with Abul Aas, king of Spain. He gave back Venice to
Nicephorus and received Count Haimric, who at one time had been taken prisoner by the
Saracens and whom Abul Aas now sent back.
In this year both sun and moon were eclipsed twice; the sun on June 7 and November 30,
the moon on June 21 and December 15. The island of Corsica was again ravaged by the
Amorez was expelled from Saragossa by Abd ar-Rahman, the son of Abul Aas, and forced
to enter Huesca.
After the death of Godofrid, king of the Danes, Hemming, the son of his brother,
succeeded to his throne and made peace with the emperor.
--814: While spending the winter at Aachen, the Lord Emperor Charles departed this life
on January 28, in about his seventy-first year, in the forty-seventh year of his reign, in
the forty-third since the conquest of Italy, and in the fourteenth since he had been
named Emperor and Augustus.
A large number of messengers informed Louis of this event at the royal villa of Dou
in Aquitaine, where he was then spending the winter. Thirty days later he arrived at
Aachen and succeeded his father with the full consent and support of all Franks. Turning
his mind to the administration of the kingdom which he had assumed, he first heard and
dismissed the foreign envoys who had come to his father. He then received the other
envoys who had been sent to his father but had come to him instead.
The most important among the latter was the mission sent from Constantinople. When
Emperor Leo, Michael's successor, dismissed Bishop Amalhar and Abbot Peter, who had
been sent to Michael but had come to him, he dispatched his own envoys along with
them to the Lord Charles. These were the spatarius Christopher and the deacon Gregory.
Through them Emperor Leo delivered the ratified text of a treaty of alliance. When they
had been received and dismissed, the Lord Louis directed his envoys, BishopNordbert of
Reggio and Count Richoin of Padua, to Emperor Leo to renew friendship with him and to
ratify the aforementioned pact.

After holding a general assembly of his people at Aachen he sent envoys into all parts of
his kingdom to render justice and relieve the oppression of the people. He sent
for Bernard, king of Italy, his nephew, presented him with gifts, and dismissed him again.
With Duke Grimoald of the Beneventans he made a solemn treaty similar to that of his
father, namely that the Beneventans should pay an annual tribute of seven thousand
solidi. Then he sent Lothair, one of his two sons, to Bavaria and the other son, Pepin, to
Heriold and Reginfrid, kings of the Danes, had been defeated and expelled from their
kingdom the year before by the sons of Godofrid, against whom they regrouped their
forces and again made war. In this conflict Reginfrid and the oldest son of Godofrid were
killed. When this had come to pass, Heriold despaired of his cause, came to the emperor,
and put himself under his protection. The emperor received him and told him to go to
Saxony and to wait for the proper time when he would be able to give him the help
which Heriold had requested.
--823: ... Also Heriold came from Nordmannia, asking for help against the sons of
Godofrid, who threatened to drive him out of his country. To explore this matter more
thoroughly Counts Theothari and Hruodmund were sent to the sons of Godofrid.
Traveling ahead of Heriold they carefully studied the dispute with the sons of Godofrid
as well as the condition of the whole kingdom of the Norsemen and informed the
emperor of all they could find out in these lands. They returned with Archbishop Ebbo of
Reims, who had gone to preach in the land of the Danes on the counsel of the emperor
and with the approval of the Roman pontiff and had baptized many converts to the faith
during the previous summer. ...
826: ... But the emperor left Aachen in the middle of May and arrived at Ingelheim about
June i. He held an assembly there that was heavily attended, receiving and dismissing
many embassies from various countries. The most important and distinguished among
these was the embassy of the Holy Apostolic See, which consisted of Bishop Leo of
Civitavecchia, the nomenclator Theophylact, and Dominic, abbot of Mount Olivet, from
the land beyond the sea. The envoys of the sons of Godofrid, king of the Danes, had also
been sent there to make peace and clinch an alliance, and from the lands of the Slavs
were some nobles of the Obodrites who spoke against their duke, Ceadrag. Besides all
these, Tunglo, one of the magnates of the Sorbs, was accused of having refused
obedience. These two were informed that the emperor would punish them in
accordance with their treachery if they failed to come to his assembly in the middle of
October. Some nobles of the Bretons also appeared whom the guards of that border
wished to present.
At the same time Heriold came with his wife and a great number of Danes and was
baptized with his companions at St. Alban's in Mainz. The emperor presented him with
many gifts before he returned home through Frisia, the route by which he had come. In
this province one county was given to him, the county of Riistringen, so that he would be
able to find refuge there with his possessions if he were ever in danger. ...

828: In February an assembly was held at Aachen at which the events in the Spanish
March were given special consideration over other matters. The envoys who had
commanded the army were found guilty and punished as they deserved by losing their
offices. Baldrich, duke of Friuli, was also deprived of the offices he held and the march
which he had ruled alone was divided among four counts. Because of his cowardice the
army of the Bulgars had ravaged with impunity the borderland of Upper Pannonia.
Bishop Halitgar of Cambrai and Abbot Ansfrid of the monastery of Nonantola were sent
to Constantinople and, as they reported on their return, were received by Emperor
Michael with great honor.
In June the emperor came to his villa at Ingelheim and for several days held an assembly
there. At this assembly he resolved to send his sons Lothair and Pepin with the army
into the Spanish March and told them exactly what to do. He heard the message of the
pope's emissaries, chief of the notaries Quirinus and the nomenclator Theophylact, who
had come to him there, and dismissed them. Then he went to the villa of Frankfurt. He
stayed there for a while, then turned to Worms and continued to Thionville. From
Thionville he sent his son Lothair with a large body of Frankish troops into the Spanish
March. When Lothair arrived at Lyons, he stopped to wait for news of the coming of the
Saracens. While he waited, he had a conference with his brother Pepin. When they heard
that the Saracens were either afraid to come to the march or unwilling to do so, Pepin
returned to Aquitaine and Lothair to his father at Aachen.
Near the border of Nordmannia in the meantime negotiations were planned to ratify the
peace between Norsemen and Franks and to discuss the affair of Heriold. For this
business counts and margraves came from almost all of Saxony. But Heriold was too
thirsty for action. He broke the peace that had been agreed upon and confirmed by
hostages, and burned and pillaged some small villages of the Norsemen. Upon hearing
this the sons of Godofrid immediately gathered troops. Our people were stationed on the
bank of the River Eider, not expecting any trouble. The sons of Godofrid advanced
toward the march, crossed the river, and attacked the Franks, driving them out of their
castle and putting them to flight. They took everything from them and retreated with all
their forces to their camp. Then they deliberated how to ward off revenge for this action.
They dispatched an embassy to the emperor and explained that need had compelled
them against their will to do this, that they were ready to give satisfaction, and that it
was entirely up to the emperor how amends should be made in order to preserve peace
between the two parties.
Source: Royal Frankish Annals, trans. by Bernhard Walter Scholz, Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and
Nithard's Histories (Ann Arbor, 1970). Scanned and proofread by Eric C. Knibbs, 2006. Annotated by Anders Winroth,
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